The Power List: Top 10 Sports Stars

The players and personalities putting Canada in the big leagues

Peter Montopoli, John Herdman, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Marie-Philip Poulin, Alphonso Davies, Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson, Hayley Wickenheiser, Masai Ujiri, and Leylah Fernandez

These are the players and personalities putting Canada in the big leagues. Check out the full 2023 Power List here.

MORE: See who made the 2023 Maclean’s Power List

1. Scottie Barnes is the budding star taking the post-Kawhi Raptors to new heights

Point forward, Toronto Raptors


Click here to find out why Barnes gets the top spot

2. Alphonso Davies is giving Canada a moment of global soccer glory

Winger, Canada’s men’s soccer team

Bayern Munich and Canadian national soccer team star Alphonso DaviesPrior to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the average Canadian didn’t know much about Davies. Born in a refugee camp in Ghana, he settled as a child in Edmonton, where Davies developed a love for soccer. His career took him to the top league in Germany, even as he flew under the radar at home. But everything changed during Canada’s World Cup match against Croatia. Under the blazing Qatari sun, Davies beat his defender and headed the ball into the net, scoring the first goal in World Cup history for Canada’s men’s team. It established Davies as a national superhero—in cleats, not skates. Currently a top player for German team Bayern Munich, Davies will be in the national spotlight again when Canada co-hosts the 2026 World Cup, where he’ll do his best to create more magical moments.

RELATED: Why everybody loves Alphonso Davies

3. Felix Auger-Aliassime is a clay-court powerhouse

Tennis player

Canadian tennis star Felix Auger-AliassimeAt the age of 15, when Auger-Aliassime was dominating competition at the youth level, tennis pundits started calling him a prodigy, destined to be one of the world’s greatest players. Seven years later, he’s made good on that potential. The stringy youngster from Quebec won four singles titles in 2022, earning $4.1 million in prize money. He knocked off a handful of top-ranked players, including Rafael Nadal, and ended the year ranked sixth in the world. (Milos Raonic was ranked number three at the height of his career.)


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Felix is currently ranked No. 9 in the world

But his crowning moment came at the Davis Cup, the most important team tournament on the tennis calendar. In the finals, with the cup on the line, Auger-Aliassime set his feet and boomed a forehand down the line, giving Canada the victory. This year, he’ll look to take the next step in his career by winning a grand slam.

MORE: Inside the rise of Felix Auger-Aliassime

4. Christine Sinclair & Diana Matheson are launching a league of their own

Soccer stars and entrepreneurs

Canadian national women's soccer stars Christine Sinclair and Diana MathesonSinclair and Matheson are among the best Canadian soccer players ever: Sinclair just led Canada to Olympic gold in Tokyo, and Matheson has competed at three Olympics, earning two bronze medals. Now the pair are staring at another goal: launching an eight-team women’s soccer league in Canada by 2025. It will be funded by team owners and corporate sponsors, costing $8 to $10 million per team through the first five seasons. Vancouver and Calgary have committed, and Air Canada and CIBC are on board as sponsors. Now, the pair need to fill six more slots, courting owners who can afford a $1-million franchise fee. They also need to find additional backers and convince Canadian talent abroad to come home. If their business acumen is impressive as their on-field performance, however, there should be no problem.

5. Peter Montopoli is bringing the World Cup to Canada

COO Canada, FIFA World Cup

Peter Montopoli is the Chief Operating Officer for Canada FIFA World Cup 2026Everyone knows it: the FIFA World Cup is coming in 2026, with games at BC Place in Vancouver and BMO Field in Toronto. Not as well known is how Montopoli made it happen. In 2018, as the general secretary of Canada Soccer, he worked with the U.S. and Mexico, securing a joint bid. Montopoli did a little of everything—liaising with the Canadian government, lobbying internationally, preparing materials for the bid, nailing down the campaign slogan (Unity, Certainty and Opportunity). In 2021, with the bid in the bag, FIFA hired him to oversee the Canadian arm of the tournament. It’s a big job. Toronto expects to spend roughly $300 million on hosting, and Vancouver nearly as much. On the bright side, billions of people watch the World Cup, exposure that could be worth billions of dollars in tourism revenue for each city.

6. Marie-Philip Poulin is keeping Canada on top of the hockey podium

Captain, Canada’s women’s hockey team

Marie-Philip Poulin is the captain of Canada's national women's hockey teamPoulin has developed a reputation for scoring big goals at the right moment, and 2022 was no different. Poulin won the North Star Award, given to Canada’s top athlete, for captaining Canada to gold medals at the world championships and the Beijing Olympics, where she scored two goals in the final to knock off the U.S. The Olympic win was especially sweet. With NHL players unable to compete because of COVID concerns, Canada’s men’s team foundered, knocked out in the quarterfinals. But Poulin and the women’s squad asserted Canada’s on-ice dominance. Poulin’s hockey savvy is in high demand: the Montreal Canadiens have brought her on as a player development consultant. She’ll also continue working with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association to build a women’s pro hockey league in North America.

7. Masai Ujiri is making Toronto a true basketball town

President, Toronto Raptors

UjiriMasai Ujiri is the President of the Toronto Raptors is easily one of the most valuable assets in the NBA, though he’ll never set foot on the court. He’s got an unimpeachable knack for finding overlooked talent, like the undrafted Fred VanVleet, and a reputation as a trend-setter, tapping players from his home continent of Africa to compile an intimidating roster of newcomers. His genius is no secret. For years, big franchises like the New York Knicks have been trying to lure Ujiri away from Toronto, tempting him with the spoils and prestige of running a franchise in a major basketball city. That’s why, in 2021, the Raptors awarded Ujiri a contract worth $15 million a year, making their maestro one of the highest-paid executives in the league. The duration of the deal is top secret, but hopefully the Raptors were wise enough to lock Ujiri down for as long as possible.

8. Leylah Fernandez is turning her on-court talents into off-court riches

Tennis (and branding) pro

Canadian tennis star Leylah FernandezFollowing an astonishing rise to superstardom in the past few years, Fernandez is now ready to scale tennis’s highest peaks. Yes, the 20-year-old from Montreal can rally and serve with the best of them, with a whopping forehand and don’t-blink speed at the baseline. But her off-court branding and promotional savvy are equally valuable assets. Last year, Fernandez was the 10th-highest-paid female athlete in the world, earning $6.4 million. That total included $1.9 million from tournaments, including a quarter-final finish at the French Open last spring, and $4.5 million worth of endorsements from top-tier brands like Lululemon, Google and Gatorade, among others.

Leylah finished runner-up in the 2021 US Open, just behind Emma Raducanu

This year, Fernandez will look to improve on her number-39 world ranking and max out her earning potential.

RELATED: How Canada became a tennis superpower

9. John Herdman is putting Canadian soccer on a world stage

Head coach, Canada’s men’s soccer team

John Herdman is the manager of Canada's national men's soccer teamIn 2018, when the Canadian men’s soccer team was seeking a head coach, they didn’t need to look far. Herdman had spent much of the past decade reviving the Canadian women’s team, leading them to two Olympic bronze medals. He turned out to be the right person for the men’s job, too. Herdman led the squad to the 2022 World Cup, its first in 36 years, using a blend of tactical brilliance and guru-like motivation. At the tournament itself, things didn’t go quite as planned, with Canada losing all three games. But there’s reason for hope. Canada showed it could hang with the best teams in the world. And Herdman—who recently turned down offers to coach other national sides—will spend the next few years using his managerial mastery to prepare Team Canada for the 2026 World Cup, where they plan to make the most of their home-field advantage.

MORE: How John Herdman turned Canada’s men into a brotherhood of champions at FIFA World Cup 2022

10. Hayley Wickenheiser is pushing Canada’s national game into the future

Assistant GM, Toronto Maple Leafs

Five-time Olympic women's hockey medallist Hayley Wickenheiser is the assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs and also a resident physicianWickenheiser seems to excel at anything she tries. The Hall of Famer won four Olympic golds and retired in 2017 as the greatest women’s hockey player in history. Now she pulls a double shift as both a resident physician at Toronto Western Hospital and assistant GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs, working in player development. She also holds considerable sway in the wider hockey community.

During the Hockey Canada scandal in 2022, Wickenheiser was among the voices calling to dismantle the organization’s leadership. “Regardless of what happens in the boardrooms, it’s the grassroots, it’s the moms and dads, the volunteers, the Zambonis and cafeterias and the rink that keep hockey going,” she said. Rumours even swirled that she was in consideration to be Hockey Canada’s new leader—a testament to her clout and competence.

Check out the full 2023 Power List here

This article appears in print in the March 2023 issue of Maclean’s magazine. Buy the issue for $9.99 or better yet, subscribe to the monthly print magazine for just $39.99.


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